This year, as the special projects team gathered around our big conference table, it became clear that we all wanted to do something fun, inspiring, and new. We wanted to give back, to find a way to involve more writers with our magazine, to create a community of encouragement for our fellow writers, and do something nice all around. With those goals in mind we stared into our supply closet and the bulging boxes of postcards hoping for inspiration. It showed up like a flash and the postcard project was born. We officially launched it at Portland’s Wordstock Festival in October to great success.
Here’s how it works: Attendees chose a postcard, and on the left side they wrote an anonymous love note to a fellow writer. The festival-goers filled that side of the postcard with words of encouragement, praise for work they had never read but hoped to in the near future, and offered poems and insights to keep each other going. Sometimes they wrote the things they most needed to hear themselves. We don’t have a lot of rules for the project, only that you have to address the note to “my favorite author” and you have to sign it from “your biggest fan.”
Participants placed their mailing address on a sticky note on the right side and dropped them into the Silk Road caravan trunk. Wordstock buzzed with enthusiasm over our project. Afterward, we gathered around the table and dumped out the notes, swapped the addresses and mailed them out knowing the right words would reach the person who needed to hear them most. We were excited, and a little teary as we read some of the amazing things writers had to say to each other, and within a few weeks we started getting feedback:
Dear Silk Road,
I just wanted to let the Silk Road staff know that I recently received one of the postcards from your Postcard Project, and it really made my day. I’d been having a tough week, and the inspiring message written by “My Biggest Fan” helped pull me through. Thank you for running this project, I hope I can contribute again in the future!
A Silk Road Fan
And this one.
Dear Silk Road,
Today, I was pleasantly surprised to receive an inspiring postcard in the mail that told me to “drive through the writer’s block and keep my chin up.” I must admit I have been struggling the last couple of weeks with my writing and this little message from a fellow author warmed my heart beyond words.
Thank you so much for doing the Post Card Project! I can’t wait to take part in it at AWP.
A Portland Writer
You can imagine how thrilled we were! From boxes of beautiful blank postcards to helping our fellow writers through the slump, we’re realizing the goals we set for ourselves in the beginning of the year. It’s been a wonderful community building experience and because we had so much fun, we hosted another event on campus for fellow students to encourage each other through their upcoming finals. Our response was overwhelming.
The Portland Writer is correct, we will be at AWP in Seattle this February, and you can count on seeing the Postcard Project there. Please stop by, drop a note in the trunk, and say hi. We’d love to meet you and send your postcard from the Silk Road.